The Houston real estate market continued strong in January as sales continued double-digit annual growth and prices set a monthly record, according to statistics released by the Houston Association of Realtors.

Total property sales, which includes single-family homes, townhomes, multifamily homes, country homes, high-rise properties and lots listed on the MLS, totaled 4,584 in January, up 16.4 percent from a year ago.

The overall median price of single-family homes reached a record for the month of January at $138,110, which was an increase of 4.4 percent compared to the year-ago price. The median is a typical market price where half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less than that figure.

“The greater Houston housing market should never be underestimated, as real estate has been one of the reliable backbones for the local economy for quite some time,” said Lorraine Abercrombie, HAR chair and marketing & project manager for Greenwood King Properties. “Signs are already surfacing that indicate 2006 will be another banner year for the real estate market in the region. Pending sales for February are outpacing the total number of sales from the same month last year, and the Houston home market has never been in better shape.”

Additionally, total sales for single-family homes in Houston increased by 13.2 percent to 3,641 in January, up from 3,217 reported in January 2005.

Existing single-family home sales totaled 3,145 last month, which was a 17.8 percent increase from January 2005. The median sales price for existing homes in the Houston area was $131,000, an increase of 5.2 percent compared to the same period last year.

Additionally, the number of townhouses and condos that sold in January increased this month compared to last year’s sales, with 406 units being sold last month, up 15.3 percent from the 352 properties sold in January 2005.

The overall median price in the townhouse/condo segment in Houston rose by 5.7 percent, from $106,000 in January 2005 to $111,990 last month.

The number of available homes (active listings) at the end of January was 40,814 properties, which was a decrease of 1.3 percent versus January 2005. The figure was an increase of approximately 900 properties from last month though, which was a reversal from the last five months of month-over-month declines.

Month-end pending sales of properties reached 4,349, which was up 19.3 percent from last year, and already signals a stronger February 2006, compared with 4,078 properties sold in February 2005, HAR reported.

The months inventory, which estimates the number of months it will take to deplete current active inventory based on the prior 12 months sales activity, came in at 5.2 months for single-family homes in January, which signals more of a seller’s market and also shows that demand is more than keeping up with the available supply of homes.

The Multiple Listing Service of the Houston Association of Realtors includes residential properties and new homes listed by 22,000 Realtors throughout Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties, as well as parts of Brazoria, Galveston, Waller and Wharton counties.

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